Charity ride turns tragic in Scottsdale as two motorcyclists die

Scottsdale Police Department Headquarters is at 8401 E. Indian School Road. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale Police Department Headquarters is at 8401 E. Indian School Road. (File photo)

A pair of motorcyclists from New Mexico participating in yesterday’s Torch Run as it passed through Scottsdale were killed when their motorcycle ran a red light and was hit by another vehicle.

The driver was Al Barela, 52, and the passenger was his wife, Samantha Barela, 37.  Mr. Barela was pronounced dead at the hospital while Samantha died at the hospital last night at 11:45 p.m., a press release states.

According to Scottsdale Police, at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, a motorcycle ridden by the Barelas was traveling northbound on Frank Lloyd Wright approaching the Thunderbird intersection.  The motorcycle was participating in the Torch Ride for Special Olympics.

The traffic signal for northbound Frank Lloyd Wright was red, police officials say.  A Mercedes sedan driven by a female driver was making a left turn at the Frank Lloyd Wright/Thunderbird intersection on a green light.

The motorcycle ran the red light and struck the side of the Mercedes. Both motorcycle riders were ejected onto the street and they were not wearing helmets.  The driver of the Mercedes was uninjured.

The Torch Ride was following a police escort as it passed through the city. Scottsdale Police say event organizers were advised to direct all the participants to stop at all red lights where an officer was not present and obey all traffic laws during the ride, the release states.

As the ride entered the city of Scottsdale, there was one Scottsdale motor officer riding at the beginning of the group of riders and one at the end.  Several of the city’s larger intersections along Frank Lloyd Wright were covered with stationary officers to prevent cross traffic.

As the group approached Thunderbird, the lead officer noticed a green light for northbound traffic and he proceeded to lead the group through, police officials say.  The light at Thunderbird and Frank Lloyd Wright then cycled to red along its normal timing schedule.

Approximately three motorcycles stopped for the red light at Thunderbird and Frank Lloyd Wright.  These motorcyclists were later interviewed by detectives at the accident scene, the release states.

According to Scottsdale Police Sgt. Ben Hoster, the rider of the motorcycle involved in the accident passed the stopped riders at a high rate of speed and ran the red light.

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